Iodine for plant-based babies. Where does it come from, how much do they need, and why does it matter? Here’s everything you need to know about this important mineral, plus recommended sources of iodine for vegan kids.
Nutrition experts say that an appropriately plant-based diet can be absolutely safe and adequate for all ages and stages.
While we wholeheartedly agree, there are some nutrients that can require a little more effort to incorporate when your baby’s diet doesn’t include animal products, like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.
Iodine is one of the nutrients that can fall by the wayside on a vegan diet, but luckily there are some easy ways to make sure your babe is getting enough of this essential nutrient.
What is iodine?
Iodine is a mineral needed by the body to make thyroid hormones, which control metabolism and support bone and brain growth.
The primary sources of iodine in the standard American diet include:
- Fish and seafood
- Dairy products, like milk, yogurt, and cheese
- Breads and cereals
- Iodized salt (Pink and Himalayan salts are not iodized)
While fruits and vegetables can also provide iodine, but the amount depends on the fertilizer used to grow them as well as the composition of the soil.
If you don’t get enough iodine, your body cannot produce enough thyroid hormone. In pregnancy, this can lead to birth defects. Children who are deficient in iodine can experience cognitive delays and lower than average IQ.
The first sign of iodine deficiency is often the appearance of a goiter, which is an enlarged thyroid gland, located on either side of the neck.
How much iodine do kids need?
Iodine is needed in fairly small amounts, but it’s important to be aware of how reliably your baby’s needs are being met.
Baby’s under 1 year old will receive all of their iodine needs from breast milk or formula.
Below are the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for iodine for kids:
- 0-6 months: 110 mcg
- 7-12 months: 130 mcg
- 1-8 years: 90 mcg
- 9-13 years: 120 mcg
- 14-18 years: 150 mcg
Best iodine sources for vegan kids
While iodized salt is one of the most widely available sources of iodine, children under the age of 1 year should not be given added salt in their diet. This can be stressful for their developing kidneys.
It’s also important to be aware that processed and packaged foods frequently contain salt, but it is rarely iodized, making this foods a poor source of iodine on any diet.
As we mentioned, fruits and veggies can contain some iodine, but it’s hard to tell how much as the amounts can vary significantly depending on many factors.
Additionally, sea vegetables like seaweed and kelp are often emphasized as good source of iodine, but again, these sources are not always reliable or consistent.
As such, we recommend the babies and children on a vegan diet take an iodine-containing supplement to meet their needs. Most multivitamins will contain iodine.
For some of our recommended iodine-containing multivitamins for kids, download our free supplement guide.
Iodine for plant-based babies, and most people in general, is often a forgotten part of a healthy diet. To make sure your baby is getting enough, try incorporating some of the mentioned sources of iodine for vegan kids.
Chime In: What other questions do you have about iodine?
If you enjoyed this post, check out some of our others:
- Non-Dairy Calcium-Rich Foods for Babies
- Plant Sources of Iron for Babies
- Supplements for Vegan Kids
- Vitamin B12 for Plant-Based Kids
For more guidance around supplementation for vegan children, get your free copy of our supplement guide.